If you have a son, you know that a boy can be both wild and sweet. You'll encounter some hair-raising challenges while raising him to become a strong man, but you'll also enjoy the many rewards of sharing adventures with your son.

Here are some simple ways you can find joy in raising a boy:

  • Eat with him.  Your son will feel loved when you buy and prepare lots of good food for him, and enjoy it with him. 
  • Nurse him through illnesses.  The time you spend taking care of your son when he's sick can be a valuable time to bond with him, since he slows down and needs affection then.
  • Don't worry about fashion.  Your son may not care much about his clothing styles, so relax about it yourself.  Let him wear whatever he wants to wear, as long as the clothes fit properly.
  • Check his pockets.  Before you do the laundry, check what your son has in his pants' pockets for clues to what little things are important to him.
  • Help with hygiene.  Since boys often don't have the best personal hygiene habits, you may need to make sure that your son regularly takes care of tasks like brushing his teeth and clipping his nails.  Train him to develop healthy habits.
  • Let him compete.  Boys love to win competitions, so give your son plenty of opportunities to enter contests (such as through school and sports) and play some competitive games together at home.  Keep in mind, too, that your son will likely complete a task (such as getting ready for bed) faster if you challenge him to a competition to see how quickly he can do so.
  • Raise a gentleman.  Teach your son to treat others with kindness and respect, use good manners, and appreciate some sophisticated parts of life (such as poetry and classical music) rather than just assuming he won't be interested in culture.  Encourage your son to articulate his thoughts and feelings well, and to express appreciation to people who help him.
  • Balance protection with adventure.  Ask God to give you the wisdom you need to balance your desire to protect your son with his desire to have fun adventures.  Pray for your son, and then give him the freedom to have fun responsibly.
  • Go for gross.  Accept the fact that boys tend to appreciate gross humor a lot.  Don't hesitate to laugh along.  Don't be offended when your son makes gross comments, as long as they're not hurtful to anyone.
  • Take advantage of time in the car together.  When you and your son are driving around doing errands or going to one of his activities, use the time to engage in meaningful conversations with him.
  • Raise a warrior.  Boys like playing with action figures because they like to take action to do what's right in this fallen world.  So encourage your son to rely on God's power to overcome evil with good whenever and wherever he can.
  • Enjoy adventures together.  Take your son on outings and vacations whenever you can.  Boys love adventures.
  • Help him develop a strong work ethic.  Assign your son some regular household chores to help him learn how to take responsibility for what needs to be done and to work hard.
  • Enforce family rules.  Set clear family rules (such as cleaning up messes and refraining from calling others mean names).  Whenever your son breaks a rule, enforce the consequences to help him learn how to mature.
  • Give him time outdoors.  Since boys like the freedom of exploring God's creation, give your son as much time as possible to play outside.
  • Teach him tact.  Boys tend to blurt out whatever they're thinking and feeling whenever they think and feel it - even if doing so isn't appropriate.  Help your son learn when to speak up and when to refrain out of respect for others.
  • Notice tiny acts of love.  Although sometimes boys don't seem as affectionate as girls, they actually do express their affection through many small gestures every day - like giving you compliments, or helping you with a task that needs to be done.  So be alert for the tiny ways your son shows his big love for you, and thank him when he does.
  • Trust God with his future.  Keep in mind that your son will grow up to become a man one day.  As you think about your son's future, don't worry.  Instead, pray for him in specific ways and entrust him to the care of the One who made him and loves him even more than you can: God.  Rather than trying to convince your son to follow your own plans for his life, give your son the freedom and encouragement he needs to seek and follow God's plans for his life.

March 11, 2010

Adapted from How Do You Tuck in a Superhero?: And Other Delightful Mysteries of Raising Boys, copyright 2010 by Rachel Balducci. Published by Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Mich., www.revellbooks.com.

Rachel Balducci is a writer and the mother of five lively boys. Her website, www.testosterhome.net, has been nominated for several awards. Rachel is a former staff writer for the Augusta Chronicle and has been published in numerous magazines, including Good Housekeeping, Faith and Family, and The Word Among Us.

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